Saturday, January 21, 2012

Someone's Favorite Teacher

A little over a week ago, I was perusing the aisles at the local Dollar Tree to pick up some essentials for my classroom. I cannot buh-leave how quickly second graders go through pencils! I swear, I think they eat them! I'm constantly having to restock various supplies, and the cheapest way to get what I need every few weeks is to pay a little visit to the Dollar Tree. I love the Dollar Tree because, well, everything is a DOLLAR and they have an amazing office supplies/teacher goodies aisle. 

So, I was hanging out in my favorite aisle, eying up some rulers, paperclips, pencils, and stickers when another shopper paused to look at the supplies that were accumulating in my cart. I smiled at her and moved out of the way so that she could get by. Instead of walking past, she asked, "Are you a teacher?" I glanced down into my cart and it was kinda obvious. Why else would I be buying items (rulers, pencils sharpeners) in quantities of 22 - ha! I explained that yes, I am a teacher. I told her that it's my first year, and I love shopping at the DT because it's so cheap. I told her I didn't mind spending the money; I love my job. 

The lady replied, "I think it's wonderful that you chose to be a teacher." She went on to tell me about her favorite teacher from 30 years ago. Up until 6th grade, this woman hated to read. However her 7th grade reading teacher helped her to develop a love for reading. She lit up as she told me that she has always loved reading ever since that year, and that she plans to look up the teacher who now resides at a local nursing home and go visit her. 

I smiled and enjoyed hearing her story. She thanked me again for choosing to become a teacher and then we went about our separate ways. I finished stocking up on my supplies and was looking for a few other items around the store.

About ten minutes later, I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, and to my surprise, the kind woman who had shared with me her feelings about her favorite teacher was standing before me, holding out a wad of cash. I was completely taken aback. 

"Here. This is for you." At this point I am shaking my head "no" and waving my arms in front of me and telling her that it was not necessary.

She said, "This is in good faith that you'll be someone's favorite teacher one day."

Through tears, I told her that I could not accept such a gift from a stranger. And her response to me was, "You can... and you will. Use it to buy what you need for your classroom. God bless you." I hugged her and thanked her, and she walked out of the store.    

I pray that I will be the teacher that God has called me to be.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Goodbye 2011... Hello, 2012!

Goals for 2012

-Read through the Bible

-Take two courses in ELL instruction and pass the ELL Praxis to earn the $2500 stipend for which I have been selected

-Lose another 10-15 pounds (down almost 20 pounds from last new year)

-Lord willing, start a family

-Go on vacation with my husband for the first time since our honeymoon (hmmm... that $2500 could come in handy for that!)

-Become more organized

-Blog more often :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011: The Year in Review

Year of 2011

-Mourned the loss of Nanny on 1/7/11, but rejoicing for the healing she received in its entirety as she crossed the bridge into eternity with her Lord and Savior. I can't imagine how awesome her days are as she worships with the angels. I miss her dearly, but I know for sure that she wouldn't want to come back to this life. And she wouldn't want us to be sad for her. I'll see her again one day :)

-Almost passed out upon watching the pregnancy test blink the word "PREGNANT" back at my unbelieving eyes on 1/24/11. Hugged and cried with my Hubby in our kitchen when I gave him the news.

-Was hired by Washington County Public Schools for a temporary position through the end of the 2010-2011 school year as an ELL Paraprofessional. I started this new position of traveling between three elementary schools in Washington County to work with ELL students in the first week of February 2011.

-Mourned the loss of my Pappy on 3/11/11. Just over two months after Nanny's passing, Pappy went on to join her in eternity. I can only imagine the rejoicing that took place at their reunion in Heaven. Thank God he's no longer suffering with COPD. As the anniversaries of their passing creep upon us, it's easy to be filled with sadness... but I know they wouldn't want us to grieve. Just trying to remember all of the special memories we made with them through the years.
-Lost my first baby on 3/17/11. My heart is still broken, but I know that my little one is being spoiled in Heaven by those of our family who have gone before us. I can't wait to get to Heaven to hold them in my arms!

-Started an exercise regimen of walking and began losing weight in April. 
-Walked across the stage at my graduation ceremony for my master's degree on 5/15. What an accomplishment, and what a relief to be finished that level of my education. 

-Was hired into my dream job less than 24 hours after interviewing at Pangborn Elementary School ten days after graduation on 5/25.

-Celebrated our sixth dating anniversary on Memorial Day Weekend. Feels like just yesterday we met in 2005.

-Started a summer job making $25 an hour, setting my own schedule in June. I worked in the homes of children with emotional problems. Some babysitting combined with goal setting and behavior modification... perfect summer job!

-Spent several gloriously lazy days lounging at Mom and Dad's new pool throughout the summer. The sunshine was therapeutic.

-Fluffed my best friend's wedding gown on her big day on June 25th.

-Turned 27 on July 24th.

-Spent three days at the beach with my Mom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law in August. Many laughs, many memories. 

-Started the school year at the end of August as a second grade teacher. Spent numerous late nights in my classroom getting everything ready for the following day.

-Celebrated my husband's 36th birthday on 10/15.

-Enjoyed dinner and a movie to celebrate our third wedding anniversary on 10/18.

-Dropped to my knees in prayer for my mother-in-law after a fairly routine surgical procedure became the catalyst for several severe complications. (November 2nd - December 24). THANK GOD, He brought her through and she was able to be home with us Christmas Day.

It's been a long, trying year. Praising God for His faithfulness through it all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Special Visitor

 A special visitor showed up on Christmas Eve at Aunt Penny's house. The photos tell the story. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry & Bright

Merry Christmas! I feel like yesterday I was lounging by Mom and Dad's pool, basking in the hot summer sun... and then I blinked. And here we are... Christmas is in 2 days! WOW!

It goes without saying that 2011 has been a year full of challenges. But in those challenges we discovered a strength and peace that can only come from God. Thinking about where we were a year ago, I can honestly say that we are now stronger in our faith, and we look a life through a different lens after enduring so many hardships. We have many blessings and we are thankful for the multitude of ways that God provided for us this year.

Every year I design a Christmas card from scratch. I wish I could send a Christmas card to everyone... but since I can't, please enjoy a digital version found below:


Inside Right:

Today was the last day of school for the year of 2011. At 3:20pm, my 11-day paid vacation began. School resumes in 2012 on Tuesday January 3rd, and until then.... I plan to r-e-l-a-x. And clean. And read. And nap. And scrapbook. And basically catch up on everything that I've let slide over the last 3 months since school began. I stayed up till 1am last night wrapping presents for my students. Every student got a goody-bag with a stuffed animal, stencils, stickers, pencils, and pencil sharpener. I also gave each child a chapter book and a picture book. I only spent about $4 total per child, so I think I made out pretty well! My husband said to me last night, "Your coworkers are going to think you're crazy for buying all of that stuff for your kids." My response to him was, "I don't care! These kids have been my motivation to get up and keep going on gloomy, sad days that I didn't feel like climbing out of bed. So I don't mind spoiling them at all. I love these kids." :) 

We had our holiday party today, too. The kids put finishing touches on picture frames for their parents that we painted, glittered, and decorated with ribbon. I took pictures of the kids to put inside, and the kids wrapped their presents today to give their parents for Christmas. The party started out with a really special moment. I have a child in my class from a single parent home whose mother is in the military. So, the child came to Hagerstown from Virginia Beach to live with his aunt since his mother's position requires her to travel frequently. Long story short, the mother emailed me last week and wanted to know if she could come in during our holiday party and surprise her little boy. Needless to say, I said yes!!! So at 1:00, a uniformed soldier knocked on our classroom door, and a very shocked and excited boy jumped up out of his seat and exclaimed, "Mommy!!!  That's my Mom!" and ran to his mother and jumped into her arms. It was an extremely touching moment, and one that I'm sure I will never, ever forget. After the excitement of the arrival of our guest, the snacks were brought out and I took turns decorating sugar cookies with each of my kiddos. They had a blast. And then... there were the presents. After hours of wrapping 42 books and hand-writing their names on treat bags and tying them all with ribbon, they tore into their gifts on the count of three... and it took less than five seconds for all of that wrapping effort to go out the window :) The best part for me was, not a single student said, "That's it?!" or "I don't want books!" Every single one of them was overjoyed and so appreciative for the little gifts that they received. While I'm excited to have a small vacation from work, I have to admit that I'm going to miss my bunch.

I was on the receiving end of lots of gifts too. I received several cute ornaments, some good-smelly lotiony things, and some things that make you go "Hmmm... what on earth will I do with THAT?!" :) Here's a  look at my loot:
Can you figure out what doesn't belong in this picture - HA! or should I say, "Meow!"

Casey was intrigued by the snowglobe :)

Merry Christmas from Casey the Cat

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Moment of Silence

It's been over a month since I last blogged. While it is true that my life has dramatically changed as I put my teacher face on, and "free time" has become nonexistent since the beginning of school, I have tried several times to start a new entry... and every time, the blinking cursor just seems to mock me and steal my words.

I think the best way to define that gap in time and space is this: A Moment of Silence. Yes, I've been busy. But underneath that busyness lie the feelings of grief and devastation that have been coming to surface more so here lately than I've experienced in a long time... because the dreaded month is here. September. The month that was supposed to be a happy month. The month where I was going to hold my baby for the first time. And as my friends and family begin welcoming their newborn babies into the world, I struggle to find a balance between being happy for them and grieving for Jason and I. It's hard to feel happy without acknowledging my loss at the same time.

Thank God I have my class of 20 seven-year-olds to keep me occupied. This job has truly been a God-sent distraction in my life that I greatly need right now. I've quickly found that the life of a teacher is not that glamorous... it's about working 10 hour days through the week and then spending half of my weekend in my classroom. It's about not watching TV anymore without a red pen in one hand, stickers in the other, and a pile of papers to grade on my lap. It's about going to bed at 8:30pm because I'm THAT exhausted, and because I want to give my students everything that I have to offer... including my energy. It's about spending more than half of my first two paychecks on materials and supplies that I need for my classroom (and a few goodies for my students). It's about perfecting that "five minute face" in the morning and capitalizing on easy up-dos to get me out the door at a decent time in the mornings. ...And all of the time, money, and energy spent on my classroom and my kiddos is 100% completely worth it. I'm exhausted and overwhelmed... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope to post some pictures of my classroom soon. Please keep my family and I in your prayers as we go through each day this month with reminders of  the loss of our angel baby.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

50 Things

50 Things I Love About My Mom

1. The way she loves her family.

2. Her smile.

3. Her laugh.

4. Her eyes. Everyone tells me I have her eyes.

5. Her gentleness.

6. Her uncanny ability to establish peace.

7. Her love for entertaining others - she's quite the hostess!

8. The way we both show up to church wearing the same colors/jewelry.

9. Her strong faith.

10. The way she "flits" from one thing to another... I get my "flitting" ways honest!

11. Her ability to always be prepared. You should see how she packs!

12. The way she quit her job when I was 9 months old to do home daycare so that she could stay home with me.

13. The way she disciplined me as a child.

14. The way she has helped to shape me into the woman I am.

15. Her love for my Daddy.

16. The way she will take Dad a glass of ice cold sweet tea when he's sweating away outside in the heat doing yardwork.

17. Her passionate worship.

18. Her love for the mountains.

19. Her love for the beach.

20. The fact that she's a prayer warrior. She prays for me everyday.

21. The way she cared for Nanny and Pappy as they ended their journey on Earth.

22. Her patience.

23. The way she describes herself as a little girl at heart.

24. The memories that she made with KL and I when we were growing up. Like baking sugar cookies under a leaky roof - LOL.

25. The way she and Daddy were always at every sports game and band performance, cheering my brother and I on from the top of her lungs.

26. Her ability to be a good friend to others.

27. The way she has become stronger through all of the trials she has faced.

28. Her extraordinary ability to feel compassion and mercy for others.

29. The way she still holds me when I need to cry, no matter how 'big' I am.

30. The way she squealed with delight in January with the news of a grandbaby.

31. How she held my hand as I received the worst news any mother could be given.

32. The way she let me grieve and how she grieved with me. There were no fake smiles for the sake of trying to gain normalcy.

33. The way she looks forward to having grandchildren.

34. How she can be trusted with secrets.

35. Her funny baby-talk way of talking to her puppy, BoBo.

36. The way she lights up a room with her smile.

37. The fact that she has to start her day with coffee. Always.

38. Her ability to write.

39. Her intense desire to make others happy.

40. Her ability to cook.

41. How her house smells.

42. The way she listens.

43. Her natural ability to make friends with the elderly.

44. The way she looks for signs from Heaven in nature.

45. Her appreciation for flowers, butterflies, and birds.

46. Her close connection with her siblings.

47. How she encourages others. Self included.

48. The way she offers to bring food when I'm sick.

49. Her goofy sense of humor when we're together.

50. Her ability to be my Mom and best friend at the same time.

I love you, Momma. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jehovah Jireh ~ My Provider!

God never ceases to amaze me. He really doesn't. I had a great job with Washington County last spring, but unfortunately the position ended at the end of the school year and left me wondering how in the world I was going to make financial ends meet until my teacher's salary kicks in on 8/18. (FYI - that's only 21 more days from today!). Well, God has come through. BIG TIME. He provided a part time summer job that paid $25/hour, and even though I didn't get as many hours as I was hoping, I was still able to pay my bills. He also provided some subbing opportunities at summer school - another HUGE blessing, and He showered me with phone calls for photography appointments. I was looking at my bank account today and I just had to turn my smiling face to Heaven and thank the Lord for all that He has provided. I've even managed to squirrel away enough money to go to the beach next week for my annual girls trip that I've taken every summer for the past three years with my Mom, Mother in Law, and Sister in Law. I think it's safe to say that I'm feeling like one of God's favorites right now! He is so good.

Photo taken on 7/20/11

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Case of the Gimmes

I keep checking my watch. The seconds are turning into minutes, the minutes into hours, and the hours into days. My eyes are wide open and actively searching for the signs. But unfortunately, it appears as though "my time" is not exactly "God's time." I guess I have a serious case of the Gimmes. ("Gimme" is slang for "give me.") I know exactly what I want, when I want it, and how I'd like to have it. I keep waiting for my heart's desire to be gently dropped into my lap, wrapped up allll pretty with a big ol' bow... and a big part of me wants to feel discouraged because it's just not happening.

But I know that God isn't necessarily going to answer my prayers when/how I'd like Him to. There are so many things in my life that I prayed for, hoping for God to open the perfect door and allow me to walk in effortlessly, and He either A) just gave me a straight "no" for an answer, or B) answered my prayer much later on and exceeded my expectations far beyond what I could've dreamed.

Like, for instance, all those times I prayed when I was a lovestruck, hormonal teenager crying out to God over a broken heart... wanting him to "fix" the guy I was dating so that our relationship could be perfect and we could live happily ever after. And He didn't. Instead, He helped me get back up off the ground, brushed me off, helped me to grow a little wiser, and sent me walking into my next relationship. Repeat cycle. Five years later, He brought Jason into my life. Six years later, I'm happily married to a godly man in a Christ-centered marriage that could only be better if it were taking place in Heaven. OR, take my job situation for example. Sure, I've been out of high school for almost ten years (gasp!) and surely thought I'd have a "Big Girl Job" (aka full-time teaching position) by now... and God took me through a series of employment opportunities that may not have been ideal for the long-term, but they have shaped me into the teacher that I am and will be this year. God answered my prayer for a job in His timing; when I would be in the best condition to be effective as a teacher.

And now... as I'm anxiously awaiting the next big chapter of our lives, I know that God  is taking us through this process and placing us in various circumstances that will help us to appreciate our blessing when the time is right... and that even though I want what I want so badly that it almost hurts, I know that His plan and timing are going to be so much better than I can even imagine.

So with that said, I'm trying to shake that Case of the Gimmes and focusing my eyes on Him and basking in His glory. And when His time is right, I bet He'll knock my socks off.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. - Ephesians 3:20

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oh, Happy Day!

As my former due date approaches in a little over two months and it becomes increasingly more difficult to stand in the presence of women who are as pregnant as I should've been right now, it's easy to feel down. It's easy to feel sad. Depressed. Jealous, even. But in spite of the glaring reminders, I'm choosing right now at this very minute to focus on what is good and happy in my life right now. Over the past couple of days, I've mentally composed a list of things that I am ever-so-grateful for right now because they cause me to feel happiness. Uplifted. Encouraged.

Friends who keep me from hiding from the world. It's easy to wanna just "hole up" some days and not get out of my pajamas and wallow in my own self-pity... and then I get a text from a friend that says, "Where have you been?! You've dropped off the face of the earth! Call me so we can do something!" My friends are my biggest fans and motivators.

Reunions with "old" friends. I got to have a wonderful lunch yesterday with two of my former coworkers from Laurel Hall. It was awesome to reconnect with one another and reflect on how far we've come in our lives since we saw each other last. So refreshing.

An ah-mazing relationship with my Hubby.  I've been reminded a lot over the past few days about how grateful I am for my husband. We are such a great balance for one another, and we're definitely stronger together than we ever were when we were apart. He still gives me butterflies... Just the other day, I had to stop and get gas before my lunch date that I mentioned up above, and I was kinda in a hurry and not really paying attention to everything going on around me. And then suddenly, something caught the corner of my eye... Right there was my oh-so-sexy husband, grinning at me with that killer smile. He still makes my heart skip a beat. It's true.

German-Chocolate Cake sold by the slice at Martins. Hey, we're being honest here... right? This cake is simply to-die-for. It's always so moist... tons of chocolate icing and chocolate shavings with the richest caramel pecan filling. AND, it's sold by the slice. So technically, I don't have to buy a whole cake. Less cake = less guilt!

Getting to know my camera. My camera has so much "juice" and I know that I haven't even begun to unleash its photo-taking power from within. This summer has been the perfect time to play a few getting-to-know-you games with my camera... playing around with aperture, shutter, color settings, and ISO. I think I might even treat myself to a new lens as a  Happy New Job! gift this fall.

Leading a small group. A few weeks ago, I started working with the youth group at my church. On Friday evenings, I am leading a high-school girls small group. Leading this small group was a little intimidating at first, but it's so neat to get to know these fine young ladies on a deeper level and help them grow in their faith.

So there you have it... a small, but honest list of things in my life right now that make me feel happy. ...And just so you know, I'm smiling right now.